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Mr Medved

Earthships

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthship

An Earthship is a type of passive solar home made of natural and recycled materials. Designed and marketed by Earthship Biotecture of Taos, New Mexico, the homes are primarily constructed to work autonomously and are generally made of earth-filled tires, utilising thermal mass construction to naturally regulate indoor temperature. They also usually have their own special natural ventilation system. Earthships are generally Off-the-grid homes, minimizing their reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels.

Earthships are built to utilize the available local resources, especially energy from the sun. For example, windows on the sunny side admit light and heat, and the buildings are often horseshoe-shaped to maximize natural light and solar-gain during winter months. Likewise, the thick, dense outer walls provide effective insulation against summer heat.

Internal, non-load-bearing walls are often made of a honeycomb of recycled cans joined by concrete and are referred to as tin can walls. These walls are usually thickly plastered with stucco.

The roof of an Earthship is heavily insulated - often with earth or adobe - for added energy efficiency.

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If you could build something that manages not to look like the pile of refuse that it's made of, or from the set for Tatooine, it could interest me smile.gif

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That would be perfectly in keeping in my old town - probably enough tyres lying around too. Council never visits so you could build your own and noone would notice. I vaguely considered building a wall around the backyard out of earth filled tyres but it was Too Much Work, and I didn't quite have enough tyres anyway.

And it doesn't say what the roof is made from on those things - very hard to see the rooves in those photos.

But if you ever want to go eco on the cheap, pick up a block of land for $1000, add a shovel and a truckload of tyres and some other odds and ends and you're away! Just have to be careful it doesn't end up costing *more* than an established house.

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There was a Grand Designs episode that featured walls made of tires filled with rammed earth. The monumental amount of effort to fill the tires, and ram the earth into them turned me right off the idea. Waaay too much hard work.

Mud bricks, or a post and beam straw bale house look far more attractive methods to me.

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I'd probably go one of the ICF systems out there, or just a massive rammed earth or recycled stone internal wall (with a fireplace in it) and the external walls in something with a high insulation rating but low thermal mass. And double glazed windows.

I really don't like the way external walls that are massive (last house has 50cm thick stone walls) soak up the heat from outside and then it takes them a week to cool off. Probably better if you've got metre thick walls but who makes houses like that? Thermal mass has its pros and cons.

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I think big heavy walls might work best in a desert environment with hot days and cold nights, where it can shed the heat collected in the day. I think you also need to look at shading exposed walls from the sun on hot summer days to stop the heat getting in.

I've had that experience of massive walls heating up 5 years ago when i was working in a heritage sandstone block building. The walls were massive, over 1 foot thick, and in summer with a run of a few hot days, the thermal mass would keep it cool inside for the first day or two, but after the heat soaked in, it would turn the place into a sauna, even if it had cooled down outside with a southerly change. Bloody awful building to work in. Was cold in winter as well.

I like the idea of reverse brick veneer, where the internal walls are of heavy masonary construction to provide a nice thermal mass, with the outside skin a lightweight insulating layer protecting that mass from the variations in external temperature.

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